Topic: Environment

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Current Event August 5, 2014

A Cargo of Lost Legos Tells the Story of Marine Trash

Earth and Space Science Environment

Lego pieces have been washing up along beaches for nearly two decades after a shipping container slipped its cargo. Now, these Legos that were accidentally dropped into the sea are traveling around the world and turning up in places like Holland and Australia. Listen to this story to learn how that's possible.

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Shredding cars

Science Middle School

Recycling Old Cars

Earth and Space Science Environment Physical Science Human Impacts Air Pollution

The "cash for clunkers" program was a limited federal government program in the U.S. that gave people credits to trade in their old, gas guzzling, polluting cars for newer ones. The goal was to get older cars off the road to improve pollution. Because the “cash for clunkers” program did not allow the re-sale of old car engines, junkyards were forced to turn the cars into scrap metal. Listen to learn what this scrap metal can be turned into.

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Overfishing and bluefin tuna

Science Middle School

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Overfishing and Bluefin Tuna

Life Science Environment Ecosystems Human Impacts Oceans

There is debate whether fish like the bluefin tuna are going to go extinct. Some argue that the decline in bluefin results from excessive fishing. However, long time bluefin fishers like Eric Stewart, disagree with this stance as he sees an increasing population of bluefin. Listen to hear from both sides, and how one bluefin tuna can swim across the entire ocean.

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Microbial fuel cells

Science Middle School

Turning Sewage into Microbial Fuel Cells

Life Science Earth and Space Science Environment Energy Cells

Scientists are creating bacteria batteries by using wastewater to generate electricity. The microbes from sewage can be harnessed to develop microbial fuel cells. The process could provide ways to provide energy in remote places for very little money. Listen to learn how scientists are developing this energy and what they are learning from it.

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Engineering with mushrooms

Science Middle School

Engineering Design Turns Mushrooms into Foam

Life Science Environment Engineering Physical Science

In this story, we hear from the head of Ecovative, a company that uses mycelium fibers from fungi to create useful and environmentally-friendly products. There are advantages of using mycelium fibers in place of plastics and foams, as well as challenges faced by the inventors in trying to create useful products. Listen to this story to hear how the engineering design process is described, as well as how scientists used this method to get to where they are today.

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Coral bleaching

Science Middle School

Ocean Warming is Forcing Coral Reefs to Adapt

Life Science Environment Ecosystems Human Impacts Oceans

Oceans around the world see declines in healthy reefs. The increase in ocean temperatures due to global warming is one of the factors that cause this deterioration. Part of the coral reefs are endangered, but some corals are still thriving despite the increase in ocean temperature. Listen to learn who relies on coral reefs and what would happen if they completely deteriorated.

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An imminent thaw

Science Middle School

The Changing Ecosystem of the Bering Sea

Earth and Space Science Environment Ecosystems Oceans

Ice is an essential component of the ecosystem of the Bering Sea region. For example, sea ice cover can dramatically affect the levels of phytoplankton which has enormous effects on the entire food web. In this public radio story we hear about the health of the Bering Sea ecology by studying scientific observations.

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Geology through sound

Science Middle School

Geological Data about Climate Change Turns into Music Through Sound

Life Science Environment Climate Change Human Impacts Geology Sound

A geologist has turned decades worth of data into music. He created a multitrack sequencer for data instead of music. The data and music show a tight correlation between the amount of carbon dioxide and the amount of ice on the earth. Listen to hear what climate change sounds like and how it is helping scientists understand how humans affect our climate.

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Weathering and erosion

Science Middle School

Beach Erosion Threatens Infrastructure

Earth and Space Science Environment Geography Ecosystems Physical Science Human Impacts Oceans

What happens when human structures and nature come into conflict? Ocean Beach in San Francisco is naturally eroding, but the consequence of this shifting shoreline is that a sewage treatment plant is put in peril. Without intervention, raw sewage could be dumped into the ocean. A rock wall has temporarily stabilized the pipeline, but not without complications. Listen to learn about the other solutions that are being considered, including construction of an artificial dune.

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Using grass for electricity

Science Middle School

Burning Grass for Alternative Electricity

Life Science Earth and Space Science Environment Ecosystems Physical Science

Energy experts are thinking about ways to replace coal that’s burned in American power stations. One alternative is to burn plants because they can produce fewer greenhouse gas emissions. This results in biomass power. Listen to learn about a movement in the Midwest that uses millions of acres of grass for biomass power.

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Rare earth elements

Science Middle School

China Owns Most Rare Earth Elements Used in Electronics

Technology Environment Physical Science Energy Geology

Rare earth minerals are very important to today's electronics. Your iPod, laptop, and television use them. They make electronics light so they don't need much power. But the Chinese have a lock on the production of rare earth elements and this could become a problem for the US.

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Quieting the ocean

Science Middle School

Noises in the Ocean Threaten Marine Animals

Life Science Earth and Space Science Environment Ecosystems Human Impacts Oceans Sound

Human behavior continues to have an effect on marine life under the water. This story highlights how humans make the ocean so noisy. Scientists are worried that the noise is causing a disruption to animals and threatening their existence. Listen to learn what humans are doing and what can be changed.

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Ocean acidification

Science Middle School

Shellfish on your Dinner Plate Threatened by Ocean Acidification

Environment Ecosystems Oceans chemistry

The increasing acidity of the oceans could eventually affect your dinner plate. There is a decrease in the number of juvenile oysters known as "seed" due to the increase of CO2 in the ocean. Listen to learn how workers are dealing with the issues and how it affects the seafood we eat.

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Somethings in the water hole

Science Middle School

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Microbes in the Water Hole

Life Science Environment Ecosystems Human Impacts Ecology

While popular swimming holes are commonly tested for bacteria, few are tested for protozoans. Protozoan-caused illnesses can cause problems for swimmers in rivers, lakes, and ponds. Listen to learn how we can distinguish between the different types of microbes and how this introduces the classification of microorganisms.

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Fracking and earthquakes

Science Middle School

Research Shows Fracking Causes Earthquakes

Earth and Space Science Environment Ecosystems Energy Geology Forces and Newton's Laws

Hydraulic fracturing or fracking is the process of putting liquid into shale to remove natural gas. There's concern that when the drillers get rid of wastewater from fracking, it goes into the ground and causes earthquakes. This is happening in places such as Arkansas, and now residents are speaking up to try to put a stop to it. Listen to learn how residents figured out where the earthquakes were coming from and how they are taking the issue to court.

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Corals and climate change

Science Middle School

Corals and Climate Change

Life Science Environment Climate Change Weather and Climate Human Impacts Oceans

What makes up a coral? This audio story takes you to an underwater observatory where a scientist is studying coral reefs. The scientist has found that CO2 in the ocean is making the ocean warmer and dissolving the coral reef system. But the scientist also discusses how coral reefs can recover. Listen to this story to hear the factors that threaten coral reefs and how they can recover.

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Cloud seeding

Science Middle School

Cloud Seeding for Weather Modification

Earth and Space Science Environment Weather and Climate Physical Science Agriculture Energy

There is a debate over whether cloud seeding is an efficient way to produce more snow and rain in places where droughts are the worst. Opponents claim that the chemicals that are sprayed into the air to create more water are toxic and could cause health issues in the future. Others believe this is the only way to for some gas and electric companies to obtain more energy. Listen to learn about the other concerns at hand and if this the history of this process.

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Bee deaths and crop consequences

Science Middle School

Bee Deaths and Crop Consequences

Life Science Environment Ecosystems Reproduction

Over the past several years honeybee colonies have declined dramatically. There is no consensus over a single cause, and in fact, scientists point to multiple reasons for this problem. An important, yet often overlooked factor is basic land use decisions. Listen to learn about the importance of the symbiotic relationship between honeybees, flowers and humans, and what kids can do to help promote honeybees and other pollinators.

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A delicious solution to our energy problem

Science Middle School

A Delicious Solution to Our Energy Problems

Earth and Space Science Environment Energy Electricity chemistry

A new source of energy is being developed by using Michigan's industrial food waste. Using existing technology for converting manure into electricity, these anaerobic digesters are doing their work on pudding packs and canned peaches, among other delicacies. Listen to learn how they are turning waste into electricity.

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Baltimore's dirty harbor

Current Event June 27, 2014

Baltimore’s Dirty Harbor Cleaned by Innovative Water Wheel

Environment Engineering

Tourists to Baltimore’s harbor say that it is “disgusting” because so much trash is floating in it. So one resident built a Water Wheel to efficiently clear the trash out of the water. It has been lauded as a much better method of cleaning of trash from water than by hand. Listen to this public radio story to learn more about this unique recycling effort.

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